Do not judge and you will not be judged. — Luke 6:37
The Bible makes it clear. Worry about your own spirituality and keep your opinions on your fellow worshipers to yourself. So why aren’t more Christians getting (and spreading) this message?
After four years of near constant criticism about her fashion choices, actress Meagan Good and her husband, DeVon Franklin, were fed up. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back took place last month at the One Church in Los Angeles. An attendee openly criticized Good during a Q&A session. The woman said she saw Good in a grocery store with her “breasts showing.” She allegedly didn’t want to judge her, but ended her comment by telling the actress she needed to “make sure what you say and what you do match up. So we gon’ cover up, right?” Good was near tears. Her husband interrupted the woman and defended his wife. The video went viral, setting off huge debates on what’s acceptable for a woman to wear — and who gets to decide whether her choices are appropriate for church.
What part of Christianity gives anyone the authority to check someone else’s choices? Is the woman who criticized Good in that church a perfect Christian? Of course not — there’s no such thing. It’s highly unlikely that this woman has a firm handle on all Ten Commandments. So how would she feel if she was challenged by someone else — publicly! — on any part of her spiritual connection?
In 2013, Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell dealt with the same issue when she released a promotional photo of herself wearing a white dress that hugged her curves. The outrage was loud and clear: a Christian woman — particularly one who sings gospel music — should dress more modestly.
It’s easy to point a finger at a celebrity because they’ve willingly exposed their life choices to the public. But that doesn’t mean anyone can possibly know their heart and intent. What if Good and Campbell were always covered head to toe — but they were awful human beings who didn’t follow any of Christianity’s teachings?
Let’s say that Good and Campbell’s fashion choices are in violation of some arbitrary "good Christian" rules. Let’s say that the Bible clearly states: Thou shall not — under any circumstances — wear a dress that plunges to your navel when thou walketh the red carpet at the BET Awards. Let’s say there was an 11th commandment handed down: Thou shall not show cleavage.
If all of the above were an essential part of Christianity, who would be qualified to put women like Good and Campbell in their place? Who lives a sin-free life that allows them to point a finger and denigrate others for their choices? Can this kind of judgment turn people off Christianity as a whole? It’s something to consider. In 2016, the number of Americans who practice Christianity continues to drop. A thorough study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the percentage of people who identify as Christians dropped from 78 percent in 2007 to 70 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, those identifying as non-religious increased by six points.
Are these numbers directly related to criticism that people like Good and Campbell have experienced? That’s impossible to say. But judgmental followers definitely don’t bring people into the fold. In every story surrounding this issue, the comments sections are overrun with people on both sides. And all who pull out the Bible to defend their judgment can cite a chapter and verse to prove their opinion is the right one. Searching for Bible phrases to support any argument is pointless. The Bible is a document that contains diametrically opposed ideas from start to finish. If you want to find something that says judging someone is acceptable, you’ll find it. If you're looking for a verse that tells people to mind their business, you’ll find that too. If you’re looking for something that speaks to women covering up, you can find it (Timothy 2:9). If you’re looking for something that says women can wear what they want, you can find that too (Samuel 16:7).
Ultimately, it’s a complicated issue and a single person can’t define what’s right and then grade others based on their belief. Perhaps, it should be left to the individual Christian to define and explore his or her own spiritual compass.
And if you must use a Bible verse? Let’s try this one: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?" Matthew 6:25-34
Watch our throwback interview with Meagan Good and the cast of Think Like a Man Too, below:
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(Photo from left: Entertainment One Music, Mike Windle/Getty Images for BET)